Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Serfwerks to Join Griffin Hill’s Webinar to Win Series

Serfwerks will be joining Griffin Hill’s Webinar to Win series on Thursday, April 20 at 11 a.m. MDT to present the “Top Three Marketing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them.”

The webinar reviews the three most common and detrimental pitfalls small- to medium-sized businesses face when engaging in marketing related activities, including tools before strategy, lack of accountability and unbounded creativity. In this webinar, Nate Gibby, Serfwerks’ principal and co-founder, and Griffin Hill CEO Dr. Scott Baird explore the three pitfalls while providing solutions to avoid them.

To participate in the webinar, complete the form below or visit GriffinHill.com. The recording of the webinar will be made available online if you’re unable to attend live.

Register for Webinar






Presenter: Nate Gibby, MPA

Nate Gibby has spent the past 20 years providing marketing consulting services to hundreds of companies of all sizes and industries. Prior to founding Serfwerks, he was the director of marketing for Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill and two Salt Lake-based marketing service agencies. With an undergraduate degree in public relations and a graduate degree in public administration, Nate’s unique educational background complements his marketing experience by adding skills in research, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and organizational behavior/ psychology to his repertoire.

Nate also has extensive copy writing experience having written for many of his previous clients. He has worked as a free-lance writer for Utah Spirit Magazine and an associate editor of AdNews Magazine. He also taught marketing courses for professionals in the University of Utah’s department of Academic Outreach and Continuing Eduction and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Westminster College and the Utah Technology Council.

Presenter: Dr. Scott Baird

Griffin Hill founder and CEO Dr. Scott Baird brings over 30 years of business performance research and consulting experience. Dr. Baird’s innovative breakthroughs in human and organizational performance constitute a new technology that elevates organizational performance. Griffin Hill clients experience significant increases in human productivity and revenues. Dr. Baird completed his undergraduate work at Washington State University graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science. Following his studies at Washington State, Dr. Baird completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree at City University and his Ph.D. in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.

Community service is an important part of life for Dr. Baird. He has served in a variety of roles and organizations including his local school district, United Way and Boy Scouts of America. Most important to Dr. Baird is his family. He and his wife, Bonnie, are the parents of six wonderful children.

Serfwerks to Present at SmartCon 2016

Serfwerks’ principal Nate Gibby will be presenting at SMARTcon 2016 (#smartcon) on September 29, 2016 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo Utah from 2-3 p.m.

Mr. Gibby’s presentation, titled Marketing De-mystified will focus on achieving significantly improved marketing results while avoiding the common pitfalls that so many companies fall into when developing out their marketing strategy. Where so many companies don’t know how to measure their marketing performance, or have a marketing strategy that consists solely of how to implement various marketing tools (not really a strategy), Gibby will present the “Measure. Create. Affect.” methodology to help you know how your marketing is performing quantitatively while developing salient strategies to make measurable improvements to marketing performance. By taking a case studies approach to strategic marketing development, attendees will learn lessons from local and national companies and learn the proper method to quantitatively evaluate marketing performance while developing a concise and salient marketing strategy.

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SMARTcon stands for, Sales, MARketing, & Technology. SMARTcon presentations provide information to companies become more effective marketers while developing leads and creating loyal customers. Attendees will receive actionable information to increase brand awareness and gain market share. The convention also features networking opportunities, executive coaching and the SMARTAWARDS. In addition to Mr. Gibby, speakers for the 2016 iteration include Stephen M.R. Covey of Covey Leadership Center, Darin Adams of Infusionsoft, Bruce Rowe of Sebo Marketing and several others.

More information about SMARTcon can be found at http://smartcon.griffinhill.com.
For tickets, please visit http://smartcon.griffinhill.com/buy-tickets/. Those a part of the Serfwerks network can use promo code “Griffin Hill Friends & Family” for a discounted admission price.

Endurance Sports Show

Starting from Scratch

Any time a company evaluates whether to become an exhibitor at a trade show, its primary concern is to be able to connect with their target audience. While well-established trade shows are a de facto line item of an exhibitor’s marketing budget, committing to a show with no history is a lot more risky. That created a bit of a dilemma for the first-year Endurance Sports Show as it needed to convince exhibitors to participate, even though it had no history. The Endurance Sports Show needed to prove to vendors that its event was sure to attract enough attendees that exhibitors couldn’t forego the opportunity.

“Serfwerks perfectly communicated our message and told the story about our industry perfectly.” —Shawn Snow, co-founder

Proposal Cover Close Up

Implementation of Marketing Strategy in Branding

Proposal Cover

Final Solicitation Proposal featured a Stitch Binding

Act Like You’ve Been There Before

The Endurance Sports Show contracted with Serfwerks to develop its branding and vendor marketing strategy. Instead of simply touting the benefits of exhibiting at the show, the marketing strategy we developed harnessed the passion of the athletes who participate in endurance sports. Runners don’t just like running—they practice it as religion. Triathletes don’t train for fun, for them a triathlon is a vehicle to defy the limits of human performance.

Not only did Serfwerks develop the branding for the event featuring, but also developed a vendor solicitation proposal that was used to solicit participation from prospective exhibitors.

“The marketing material Serfwerks created helped open doors and lead to new sponsorships and sales that we would not have had otherwise.”—Shawn Snow, co-founder

Interior Spread

Interior Spread in the Proposal

Another Interior Spread

Another Interior Spread in the Proposal

Swimming Demonstration

Attendees Viewing Demonstration

Game Plan v. Chase the Ball: A Marketing Strategy Treatise

The soccer played by little kids is more than a treat to watch. Last week I went to soccer games for both my eight-year-old daughter and my 10-year-old son. My daughter’s game was highlighted by an ever-moving swarm of girls chasing the ball. The team members take the ball away from each other and it’s difficult to actually do anything with the ball because there are always so many of the kids around it. The one or two girls attempting to play defense lazed about as their minds dwelt in princess land or some other fairy tale world not comprised of a grassy fields, shin guards, and bouncing balls. Consequently, it was no surprise that when the ball and group sped past them. Any goals that were scored were usually a matter of one girl being slightly better or faster who scored when the ball eventually was kicked out of the group and she happened to be the first one to get to it.

Conversely, my son’s game was much different. For the most part, the boys played specific positions and stayed in that position to either attempt to score or to fend off defenders. (Of course there is always some position creep in soccer played by 10 year olds, but they do well for their age.) The boys actually began passing the ball and making plays toward the goal. All of the goals that were scored were a result of either a good pass or being in position at the right time. Even the least athletic, and least interested, of the boys scored when, as a result of him being “in position,” he got a rebound out of the goal and quickly kicked it in. Our goalie played brilliantly and stopped a host of potential goals for the other by being aggressive and going after the ball rather than hoping to be able to use his 5′ stature to stop a ball going into a 21′ x 7′.

Needless to say, the two styles of play are vary greatly. They also have varying entertainment levels. Where the one you watch because its cute, the other begins to resemble good soccer.

There are similar approaches to the marketing function within any organization. In the nearly two decades I’ve been a marketing consultant, I’ve worked with hundreds of companies of all sizes and from many different industries. The significant majority “chase the ball” when it comes to their marketing strategy. In fact, there have only been a few who had a clearly defined marketing strategy to dictate how and where to go. Instead, almost all of the companies I’ve worked with, prior to engaging our firm, have followed a decision making process that goes something like this: “I have this widget to sell, so I need a logo, a web site and brochure to sell it.” Then they are left with a content void as they struggle to determine how to use those tools. This is akin to purchasing a hammer and nails prior to the plans in your attempt to build your house.

Several years ago we surveyed 50+ dentists about their marketing efforts. We found that all of them thought of their marketing strategy in terms of the media used rather than having any plan that would help them use those media to differentiate their practice.

Furthermore, as trends occur in marketing, they are usually the last to hop on board. If they do, they frequently get caught up in the “medium” as opposed to the message. For example, a board member recently told his cohorts how they needed to get their half-billion-dollar company on social media. Of course that wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that his company sells large-scale construction projects to government.

Conversely, if marketers can think more strategically about how they approach the promotion of their products and services they are more likely to be successful in not only implementing their team more effectively, but they are also far more likely to score a goal (whatever that means) while be far less likely to be blindsided when the some trend or medium attempts to pass them.

Several years ago we had a client that serviced the medical industry who had built a successful company of about 100 employees. They had used piece mill marketing collateral that, had it not been for the same logo atop all of them, appeared as though it were from the same company. They also recognized that if they wanted to get to the next level, they needed to have a better game plan. Consequently, we were contracted to perform market research and develop out that strategy. We found that given the level of experience their target audience had with the product they were far more concerned about customer service than they were about specific functionality or price, although both were important. That finding, consequently, enabled them to develop a strategy based around customer service that would suddenly allow them to develop a game plan to attack the marketplace. The strategy filled the content void by showing them exactly what they needed to do with their web site, proposals and other collateral.

The_Periodic_Table_of_Content_MarketingE-consultancy’s Periodic Table of Content Marketing is a great tool to use to ground you thinking strategically about your marketing efforts then walking you through the usage of the tactics necessary to support that strategy. The exercise of using the table forces one to think first about strategy and then provide ample methods of implementing that strategy through various media.

In conclusion, companies who develop their strategy prior to engaging any marketing tactic will find not only that they know exactly how to use that tactic, but also that they are much more effective in producing tangible results.

 

Lies, Inundation and Being Sold Part 2: Ads Ads Everywhere

This is the second in a series of posts discussing several challenges that marketers face in reaching their customers and how to overcome those challenges. This iteration deals with the inability of consumers to trust advertising. Part one dealt with dishonesty in marketing. Part three will break down the problem with “being sold.”  Future posts will provide solutions to these problems.

ads_in_times_square

You used to wake up with an alarm clock playing your preferred radio station (or at least one you hated so much that you had to get out of bed to turn it off). The alarm clock has been replaced by a cell phone playing Pandora. On your drive to work, you notice that the billboard on the side of the freeway that used to change every few months has been upgraded to a digital iteration that swaps ads every few seconds. When you get to your office and check the news, you see a column of ads, this time customized to one of your preferences or previous searches.

The number of ads to which consumers are exposed is on the rise. Where 40 years ago, consumers were exposed to approximately 200 ads per day (see https://ams.aaaa.org/eweb/upload/faqs/adexposures.pdf), today it is estimated that consumers are exposed to anywhere from 600 (see https://ams.aaaa.org/eweb/upload/faqs/adexposures.pdf) to 5,000 (see http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/) ads in a day. This is caused in part by the proliferation of new media that exponentially segments what were once reliable consumers of a specific medium.

Although this proliferation of both ads and media provide some unprecedented opportunities for marketings, including the ability to reach niche audiences that were nearly impossible to reach before, it also creates some significant challenges (see the Marketer’s Milieu Infographic).  Not only does it make for more media for the marketer to scour, but it also presents a real difficulty in getting the targeted consumer to give any heed to your ad when there is so much to compete with.

Put yourself in the place of the consumer.  If you were to stand amidst the advertisement behemoth that is Times Square (see image above) does any one ad or message stand out? If so, what is it and why? Or, is the cache´of Times Square simply attributed to the overall experience of the overwhelming nature of all of the ads?

As consumers, we’ve become very adroit at tuning out what we perceive to be visual or audio noise. Yes, ads help us know which plumber to call in the event that my sewer line breaks, but we also know how to avoid it. Half of the reason for owning a DVR is the ability to skip the content you don’t care about. When the ads come on the channel/station is changed or the Pandora station is switched.

There are times when there are innovations that make us stop to actually consume the ad, such as in 2009 when CBS and Pepsi teamed up to deliver the first ever video ad in a print magazine (http://youtu.be/hjGQuneTWMY ). As no one had ever done that before, if you thumbed through the magazine, you had to stop and watch it as it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Although I could care less about CBS’ 2009 fall line up, I had to click the buttons to watch the videos simply because it was so innovative. However, such innovations in advertising are few and far between. If you don’t have millions to spend on the development of innovative advertising media, you’re forced to sift through the ever-expanding media while confronting an even larger challenge of getting your audience to not only notice your ad, but to remember it and accept whatever it is you’re trying to communicate.

This is not to say that marketers should not advertise. It is to say, however, that we as marketers must use the media at our disposal to communicate more effectively with consumers. We need to find ways to break through the clutter to make sure that they take note of the important things we have to say.

How to do that will be the focus of the next several posts.

The Marketer’s Milieu (Infographic)

The marketing professional is frequently in a tight spot. Not only do you have to meet the demands of your organization to collect a paycheck, but you’ve got to find and engage an audience that may not care what you have to say. If you don’t get them to pay attention and “like” you, your job is on the line. So, to all those of you who feel like you’re in a “tight spot” as marketers, here’s an infographic that serves as our attempt to show you a bit of well-deserved empathy.

marketers_milieu

Lies, Inundation and Being Sold: Part 1, The Great Dupe

This is the first in a series of posts discussing several challenges that marketers face in reaching their customers and how to overcome those challenges. This iteration deals with the inability of consumers to trust advertising. Part two deals with the prevalence of advertising. Future articles present solutions to help marketers overcome the challenges described. 

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A couple of weeks ago, my brother, a successful endodontist (root canals), heard an ad on the radio for a local used-car dealership. In the ad, the dealership touted that they want to buy your used car and would pay virtually any car owner $3,000 more than the car was worth. Upon visiting the web site, there are large ads , headlines and even a video stating that even if you don’t buy one of their cars, they’ll buy yours. 

As my brother is still hanging onto the car he had in college in the late 90s, he figured that the $3,000 bonus was even more than the car was worth so why not give the dealership a try? Needless to say, the salesman’s rampant backpedaling over the $3,000 deal obviated to my brother what we all suspected—the ad was merely an attempt to dupe potential customers into coming into their dealership. They had no interest in purchasing his well-used vehicle.

Of course, my brother is neither the first nor the last to experience deceptive practices in advertising- and marketing-related activities. It’s no surprise that a recent study by YouGov found that 50% of Americans don’t believe what they see, hear or read in advertisements. It’s also no surprise that said study listed advertisements for cars as the forth least trustworthy category of ads. Furthermore, nearly two thirds (58%) said that there should be stronger requirements for proving claims

The responsibility for this lack of trust in traditional advertising rest squarely on the shoulders of the decades worth of advertisers, marketers and organizations that have resorted to mindless gimmicks similar to the one that duped my brother. It creates a serious challenge for those of us who try to market legitimate products and services using above-board strategies and tactics. It also plays a significant role in a consumer’s nearly involuntary reaction to sales-related messaging, where at best it is simply ignored or at worst resented.

We call on marketers and advertisers everywhere to give up the lies and gimmicks and develop something of real, salient value to their customers.

The next post in this series will explore the prevalence of advertising and how that further challenges the marketing landscape.

 

 

The Tao of Virtual Focus Groups

Focus groups have been a mainstay of market research for a few decades now. In practice they are qualitative rather than quantitative events. This means that the conclusions you might draw from a small group of eight to ten people might be stunning, insightful, and impressive. But the results are not necessarily representative of your target market at large.

Why then would anyone want to consider insights from people who might not be representative of your market? Because there is something compelling about having a dialogue with real consumers. Focus groups facilitate a degree of feedback that is simply not possible with standard surveys. And while the results may not be representative of the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of the market at large, it’s possible that your focus group can be right on the money. How can you increase the chances of your focus group being right on the money?

Make it a Virtual Focus Group.

Having managed and moderated over 800 Virtual Focus Groups in the last six years, let me 1) outline the process, and 2) highlight the value of our unique approach. The Tao of Virtual Focus Groups, if you will.

  1. A quick definition: a Virtual Focus Group (or VFG) is a two-hour event in which participants sit at a “virtual table.” All they need is a telephone and internet connection to participate. There are two clear advantages to a VFG over a live focus group. First, for what a live focus group will typically cost, you can conduct two and sometimes three VFGs. This means that you are hearing from 16 – 24 people in your target market rather than eight; this can significantly increase your confidence level in the conclusions you derive from this activity. Second, a live focus group limits you to a specific geographic area–not always a bad thing–but a VFG allows you to bring people from across several time zones and zip codes together.
  2. Our VFGs are “high touch” events. Typically we interact with the participants 8 – 12 times before and after the event. This is notable because in today’s socially networked world many of your VFG participants can actually become vocal champions for your product or service. Most people are pleased to be part of something BIG. If you manage the relationship properly not only do you get valuable insights from your participants, but you also create advocates and stakeholders.
  3. Every VFG begins with a qualifying screener. Think of this as a mini survey. Our goal is to find the most qualified participants from a larger population within your target market. We’ve learned that a properly designed screener can serve a dual function: 1) It helps you identify qualified participants, and 2) It produces valuable quantitative feedback from your market. Indeed, if you screen a few hundred people, why not construct the screening tool so that you capture actionable market intelligence as well.
  4. Many VFGs include a “pre-event activity.” This is an online activity that typically takes 15 – 30 minutes. We ask VFG participants to complete such an activity prior to the scheduled VFG. On one hand, it allows us to confirm their real interest and commitment to participate in the VFG, and on the other hand it allows us to present information or content that we want them to experience before the VFG. This can range from completing an actual product review to previewing a new concept. Important to note here is that we can present visuals, audio, video in the pre-event activity. It’s an effective way to gather additional insights from the participant as we get to know them better as people.
  5. Every VFG is professionally moderated and driven by a Discussion Guide (DG) that is carefully developed around the needs of each client. The DG is an interactive tool that presents a topic to be discussed, but it requires each participant to grade, rate or quantify something before we engage in discussion.This means that each participant sees a question on their computer screen, and they respond online before anyone vocalizes their thoughts. This approach has two advantages. First, it greatly reduces the possibility that one member of the VFG can influence the response of others because everyone has to “lock in” a response before we discuss the topic. Keep in mind that human beings can be influenced by others. It might be an especially articulate participant who sounds smart; others at the table might be inclined to agree with this person because they want to come across as smart as well. It happens. Likewise, we’ve seen situations where a participant is inclined to disagree with another participant because of factors such as geography, surname, or  the tonal quality of one’s voice. If you had a really bad dating experience in college with a guy from Boston whose baritone voice still lingers in your long-term memory bank, you might have a subconscious reaction to someone at the VFG table who reminds you of that person. It happens. The DG we develop for the VFG mitigates this possibility. The second advantage is that by having VFG participants provide ratings to certain questions we move the event more toward a quantitative activity. It’s really the best of both worlds. We measure reactions and then we discuss.
  6. The format of the VFG allows us to present a live demo of something–anything from software to a walkthrough of a website. We can also present video, audio or visuals. This means our clients can do everything from introducing a new concept for a product or service to presenting potential advertising and promotional approaches they’d like to get reactions to before launching to a wider audience.
  7. VFGs are recorded and we give you the option of having transcripts of the entire session.
  8. Most of our VFGs include a brief follow-up activity with the participants. This might be a brief survey with a few follow-up questions. It could be a brief interview in an effort to further build a relationship with the participant.
  9. All VFGs include a “Snap-Shot Report” produced by one of our analysts who has carefully reviewed the audio recording, transcript, and responses to the Discussion Guide. This is, in essence, an Executive Summary that details the conclusions we can draw from the VFG (or series of VFGs). It also provides a “Next Steps” overview that suggests potential strategies for the client to consider, including a plan for staying connected to those VFG participants who are most likely to be viral promoters of your product or service.
  10. With the Snap-Shot report in hand, we like to engage our clients in a brief 60-minute review of the results. Often times this meeting includes several stakeholders from our client company. It’s almost like having an internal Virtual Focus Group about the Virtual Focus Group. Often this meeting yields additional insights that become a key part of the client’s overall business strategy.

 

There you have it, our ten-point Tao of Virtual Focus Groups. Yet another way that research and relationships combine to produce meaningful results.

Fired

Why are CMOs being fired twice as fast as any other C-suiter? Why are major corporations like Old Navy, Taco Bell and Miller Lite letting their marketing executives go? A recent article by Jonathan Salem Baskin questions why there is so much turnover in the marketing C-suite.
Is marketing changing? Sure. Is the marketing landscape beginning to flatten with the use of social media? Possibly. Maybe it’s as Jonathan suggests, maybe they deserved to be fired.
Lack of Accountability
Serfwerks believes that in many companies marketing is the last function to reject all accountability. Is there a change coming? Could this be why companies are moving on without their top marketing executives? Are we finally seeing the day where there are no more bottomless marketing budgets used to explore “creative” ideas? Are CEOs finally requiring CMOs to measure their marketing ROI? We sure hope so.
The Case for Accountability
A recent study by CMG Partners and Chadwick Martin Bailey found the following:
– 75% of companies are highly interested in marketing measurement
– Less than 25% of companies are excelling at measuring & improving their marketing performance.
– 98% of those excelling at measuring and improving marketing performance say it is having a significant impact on their business.
– 55% of those excelling at measuring marketing performance are gaining market share.
If only 25% of companies are measuring their marketing performance it must be difficult to do. On the contrary. It’s rather simple. If you can look at past performance, define you key performance indicators and outline your sales cycle. You can measure your marketing with a 95% accuracy.
Are you measuring your marketing performance? Now is the time to do it. Don’t be the next marketing department casualty. Start being accountable today.

Marketing’s Role in the C-Suite

An Interesting Problem

Recently, we met with a client to discuss marketing strategy. This client has a long history of doing business in Utah and is one of the largest private companies in the state. However, when we met with them we met with a marketing committee composed of a public information director, graphic designer, corporate strategist, and the corporate pilot. No marketing director and no CMO.

Needless to say, this company has not devoted a lot of resources to strategic marketing. Just in case you missed it before- the corporate pilot is on the marketing committee. In the pilot’s defense, he is a perfectly intelligent person—he was just being allocated in an odd way.

After the meeting it became clear that this committee wanted to have a seat in the board room with the rest of the senior management team. Functions represented on this team were finance, operations, safety, and HR. All of these functions provide inputs that help the executive team make profitable decisions for the entire organization. Marketing was occasionally called upon to talk about the company website or the design of a tradeshow booth, but had no say in the strategic direction of the company’s marketing efforts. Why? It is because no one on the committee knew how to give the senior management team useful information or input. Continue reading